Everyone needs to have someone to look up to – and, no, this doesn’t just apply to kids. Sometimes adults need a little help with seeing a light at the end of a dark tunnel. This person will be someone who will be positive and enlightening, as well as be an understanding and strong beacon.

When you feel stuck or find yourself face to face with a trying situation, who do you turn to? If you find yourself a mentor you will always know where to turn.

What is a Mentor?

A mentor is someone who offers support and guidance to others. With the help of a mentor, many people can achieve greater successes in life than they otherwise would have – in many different areas, such as their career, school, self-esteem or confidence, personal relationships, sobriety, etc.

Simply put, mentors bring a positive influence on your life and help you make a change – for the better. Rather than telling you what to do or offering advice, mentees will find that mentors are more about leading by example and guiding lives in positive directions.

No finger pointing, no ultimatums, no judging. Instead, mentors bring an uplifting connection that can make all the difference in the world.

Mentoring Can Ease the Process

Making it far enough in your recovery to have spent time in a sober home and find yourself slowly transitioning into a normal everyday independent life is a major accomplishment. However, as proud as you may be, you are likely scared and fearful.

This is the perfect time to seek out a mentor. Why? Because they help ease this process. Many mentors seek mentees that are going through the same thing they themselves went through. This means that they will have the knowledge, experience, skills, and training to be able to help you. Not to mention the fact that your mentor is a walking example of where you may be headed!

Having a support system when you are transitioning to independent living is extremely important. Not only is your support team helpful in making you accountable for your actions (or lack thereof), but you may rely on your team for comfort, honesty, problem-solving, and strength. Mentors can be a lifeline to you and a key member of your support team.

How can they help ease the transition process? A mentor…

  • may join you in attending meetings.
  • may hold you accountable by providing random drug screenings.
  • can give guidance based on experience when it comes to your transition and everything that comes with it.
  • is trained to teach you how to cope and use problem-solving skills to tackle anything you may face.
  • may help you develop plans to meet your goals.

Mentoring Evolved to Meet Specific Needs

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, approximately 40% to 60% of addicts will relapse soon into their new, sober life – despite successfully completing a treatment program. That is not a small number. It is for this reason that many addiction professionals agree that having a mentor while transitioning from sober living to independent living could be the key to successful – and long-lived – recovery.

A pattern of relapse is evident when it comes to this tremendous change. So, mentoring evolved to meet specific needs. For example:

  • daily living skills
  • family issues
  • missing support system

Mentors aid in relapse prevention by offering to guide the mentee in an understanding, empathetic, and positive manner. In times of desperation, mentors can offer a ray of hope.

Mentors Grow Too 

It is common for individuals who have overcome addiction and live a successful, though sometimes challenging, recovery to volunteer as a mentor. These individuals know first-hand what it means to want a drug and know that you can’t have it. They know how small and unprepared you can feel when you begin to leave the controlled and comfortable sober home for the big world outside. These mentors also know the tough road that follows – reintegrating into society, facing challenges with old friends and old habits, finding a new purpose, etc.

Being a mentor, however, is not all about the mentee. See, mentors can grow, too. By helping those entering this transitional phase, mentors must be a positive and healthy example. As much as the mentor holds the mentee accountable, the mentee does the same. After all, you cannot help others if you yourself need help, right?

Mentors must be trained and given a specific skill set to help others. By possessing this knowledge, they are already growing in their recovery. Becoming a mentor to others that have encountered a similar journey provides a real sense of purpose to these individuals.

How Giving Back Can Help 

You have met some great people throughout your treatment program and sober living facility that has helped you become thankful and proud of your recovery success story. Perhaps they have even inspired you to want to be there for others.

Well, now it is your turn to give back to those who are going through what you survived! You can be an example. Sometimes, having someone to look up to can help in recovery. You know from experience that recovery is hard and, at times, can be very discouraging. But, being that person who can show others how it is possible to succeed in recovery can help – tremendously. Besides, seeing someone overcome obstacles based on your guidance and example, can swell your heart.

It is important to know that giving back doesn’t just come in the form of mentoring others in their sobriety. In fact, you can make a difference in so many ways! Here are a few ideas:

  • Volunteer at a homeless shelter or by providing bags of food or toiletry items to those on the street.
  • Volunteer your time at a local soup kitchen.
  • Work with your local battered women’s shelter.
  • Find a need in your community and treat it.
  • Clean up your local parks or beaches.
  • Be a friend to someone who needs one.

However you choose to give back, know that it can make you feel alive and full of purpose. Be the example.